Once In Lifetime Event

I had another article ready to send, but the eclipse was on my mind. I just had to share my experience. Although the totality of it eluded me, nevertheless what happened was spectacular. My night lights came on. I also saw photographs of cities where the lights were on.

First, let me say that I had my glasses. They enabled me to see what was happening just after 2 p.m. I started watching as soon as I saw the sun was out. I went outside every little while to see what stage we were at. I was able to watch from my front yard. I watched right up until the total sun was obscured. At that point the cloud cover was so heavy that I could not see anything.

Then, I came inside to watch what they were showing on television. Cloud cover in Erie was minimal so that I was able to see the whole thing.

I am not sure how many people traveled to Erie to view the eclipse, but I know even the new hotel that opened was booked to capacity. Many people chose to view the eclipse from there. They had events spaced out around town so there were no big crowds. They showed a solid line of cars coming up route 79 and a line of cars afterward as people traveled home.

It was not long until it got very dark. It was just like it was night time. That only lasted a short time but it was quite the event. We had two sunrises that day.

Although I have experienced several other eclipses, I had ever been in the path of totality. Snaps, my dog, was outside with me. He just looked at me as if to say “what is going on?” I noticed that the birds were quiet. There were no crows cawing in the distance.

The whole experience was surreal. That evening, I received a call from my granddaughter in Texas. She was in her car traveling back to the safari park where she was working. She and her fiancee had watched the eclipse from Texas. What a joy it was to share our experiences! We talked for nearly an hour.

I called my son. We shared our experiences as well. That got us reminiscing about other events we had witnessed. When my children were very young, we watched a lunar eclipse. He was impressed that he was allowed out on our porch roof to watch it. We all sat out there watching the whole thing.

We talked about another solar eclipse that we remembered. There were no glasses available for that one. I guess they had not been invented. We were warned about looking directly at the sun at that time too. We both remembered rigging up something opaque, punching a hole, then with the sun behind us watching the sun disappear through that small hole.

A lady on television explained the process for anyone who had not purchased glasses for this 2024 North American Eclipse. She told people not to despair, but to create something at home to look through just like we did years ago.

I did this with my second grade class – I think it must have been in 1979. They were amazed at what they could see. We had gone over the whole process while still in my classroom, then went outside to view the event.

In 2017 I was at Chautauqua Institution during the solar eclipse. One of the house chaperones had glasses that we all shared. Although it was not as complete as the event on April 8, 2024, it was great to be able to see.

The part that really amazes me is the accuracy with which they predict these events. We were told the minute when to start watching. We were told when we would reach totality. We were told how long it would take for the sun to return. The complete process took approximately two to two and a half hours.

A scientist from NASA was in Erie for the event. She spoke about it. A group of students were actually taking pictures for NASA. It is hoped that watching the eclipse will foster more interest in that type of science.

I know for certain it is not something that I will forget. I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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